Presenters: Bill Condon, Lori Carris and Vicki McCracken, Washington State University
Abstract: The session began with a brief outline of the Washington State University Critical Thinking Project. At WSU, we have developed and implemented an assessment instrument, a "Critical Thinking Rubric" which affords a fine-grained measure of students' progress in achieving higher order thinking skills over the course of their college careers. The instrument employs multiple dimensions, based both on the scholarly literature on critical thinking and widely accepted models of the maturation processes that students go through in college. Faculty from the College of Agriculture and Home Economics (CAHE) have used the rubric in promoting writing and critical thinking. Their experiences indicate that it demystifies classroom expectations, and allows students a clearly articulated set of criteria to work toward. The rubric has also acted as a diagnostic tool for faculty to reflect upon and revise their own teaching and evaluative strategies in an attempt to foster student critical thinking and writing. It has also served as a discussion starter for departments and the college as a whole to look at our expectations for critical thinking. Bill Condon provided an overview of the history of the Critical Thinking Project at WSU. Vicki McCracken discussed the use of the Critical Thinking rubric in the College from an administrator's perspective. Lori Carris presented her experience with the Critical Thinking rubric in a graduate-level mycology course, and some of the challenges in using the rubric in a course with a substantial number of non-native English speakers. The writing assignment and modified rubric are available at http://classes.plantpath.wsu.edu/plp521/. Further information about the Critical Thinking rubric is available at http://wsuctproject.wsu.edu.